First stop in the south east corner of Europe is Albania. A country under a brutal Communist regime for many decades, it’s still relatively unknown as a tourist destination yet is a beautiful country by all accounts of people who have visited there. Their Eurovision history is perhaps a little less beautiful… Admittedly, they haven’t been in Eurovision a long time (first entering in 2004), but it’s been a bit more of a struggle to come up with a list of 5 favourites. Still I have got a top 5 for you!

I originally planned to write and publish this on 23 December (2016) to coincide with the Albanian national final for Eurovision 2017 but a Christmas cold/flu bug put paid to that. They seem to have gone with a similar artist and song to the last three years – solo female singing mid tempo ballad, none of which have been inspiring, and none of those make this list. Oh for the days when Albania injected some distinctive ethnic sounds and instruments to their entries!

5. Anjeza Shahini “The Image of You” (2004, 7th place, 106 points)

Albania’s first ever Eurovision entry is also their second best result, and the best performing song at Eurovision amongst this top 5. A bouncy number, it’s a bit of a shaky start but gets into it once the chorus gets going (as is the case for many Eurovision songs!)

4. Luiz Ejlli “Zjarr E Ftohtë” (2006, 14th place in semi-final, 58 points)

A full blast of ethnopop and traditional instruments and sung in Albanian – makes for a classic Eurovision combination. Uniquely amongst Albanian entries, it’s sung by a cute guy! Didn’t perform so well but this was in the days of a single mega semi-final so wasn’t as far from the cut as it might appear.

3. Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko “Identitet” (2013, 15th in semi-final, 31 points)

Something a bit different now – a rock-y number that has a distinct Balkan sound. I can imagine this blasting out from a car stereo while driving through the twisting roads of Albania’s stunning mountain scenery. The last (to date) Albanian entry that has appealed to me!

2. Ledina Çelo “Tomorrow I Go” (2005, 16th place, 53 points)

Classic Eurovision! Not exactly original maybe, but I enjoy this one a lot. Sounds similar to Greek entries of the time (not surprising given Albania are close to Greece both geographically and culturally).

1. Kejsi Tola “Carry Me In Your Dreams” (2009, 17th place, 48 points)

Another classic Eurovision sounding song but it’s catchy, big chorus, uptempo, it’s got some ethnopop elements in it, and most of all it has a dancer wearing a glittery green cloth gimp mask….

So what did you think? Enough gems there from a limited choice or did I miss out on any?And yes, I know “Suus” isn’t in here (Albania’s best performing song, finishing 5th in 2012) but I value my eardrums and anything made of glass in my flat…